Common Ailments that could affect your horse by Deborah Y Strauss DVM

Horses are beautiful animals that are a pleasure to own. You can spend many enjoyable hours riding a horse, or you might just be happy to watch them graze peacefully in the field. As with all animals, horses are subject to many types of ailments and illnesses. Certain problems tend to occur frequently among horses.


Colic is one of the most serious conditions that affect horses. Attacks of colic can range from mild discomfort for the horse to severe cases that can lead to the horse being euthanized due to intense pain.

There are two types of colic known as spasmodic and impact colic. Spasmodic colic occurs when there is a build up of gas within the horse’s colon. The gas causes stretching and pain. Impact oolic occurs when feed drys and blocks the intestinal tract.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Horses are often subject to upper respiratory infections similar to the common cold in human beings. These infections cause coughing and a yellow discharge the comes out of a horse’s nose. Most upper respiratory infections are viruses that will run their course in due time. Bacterial infections will require an antibiotic prescribed by a veterinarian.


Laminitis is common in horses, and it is one of the most serious conditions that horse owners have to deal with. Laminitis is caused when the laminae located in a horse’s hooves become inflamed. The condition can set up in a horse if the horse is ridden or walked on hard surfaces for a long period of time. Horses that are overweight can also develop a chronic form of laminitis.

If laminitis progresses, it can cause the horse great pain. Some horses develop an acute laminitis that rapidly progresses leading to euthanasia. This condition is also called founder, and it can be caused by a horse eating too many carbohydrates.

Degenerative Joint Disease

Degenerative joint disease is also referred to as osteoarthritis. This is a condition in older horses that is caused by wear and tear on the joints. Over time, the cartilage is worn away causing bone to rub on bone. The condition can be treated by providing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to the horse.

These are just a few of the problems that horses might face. It is important for all horse owners to have a good veterinarian that they can call on in times of trouble. If you believe that your horse is having medical issues, call your vet sooner than later.